Take-all seems to becoming more widespread in grain crops and is now one of the main problems faced by arable growers.

This year, high incidences of the disease have been reported in first wheats as well as second. Therefore, growers must stay vigilant and be proactive, ahead of autumn, according to an expert in the disease.

“As the take-all pathogen is active in the soil down to 10°C, the mild weather this growing season has been a contributing factor to the increase in the amount of primary infection in first wheats,” explained Jonathan Blake, ADAS’ principle research scientist.

“When this occurs, it can go undetected if rain throughout the rest of the season when water uptake is not limited.

“But with the dry conditions experienced at grain fill this year in some areas, this left first wheat crops open to the effects of take-all, and even low-level root damage has impacted on water uptake and crop growth,” said Mr Blake.

“Additionally, in second wheat crops, where take-all is known to be a concern, many growers will have attempted to offset these effects with an early nitrogen application to help roots grow away from the pathogen.

“But, this year the nitrogen uptake was slow, due to the lack of rain, which would have limited the benefits of this cultural control measure.”

And, while growers are generally aware of the risk factors associated with take-all infection, one thing that is not commonly known is the importance of controlling host volunteers in break crops.

“If break crops are not kept free of volunteers, then they will act as a host for the take-all pathogen, and carry inoculum over into the next season.

“It’s important that growers realise that once take-all symptoms are evident in a crop, there is nothing that can be done to reclaim yields. Therefore, having a pro-active control strategy in place, is the best way to protect crops and profits.

“The most effective ways in which to achieve this is by rotation. But, where the decision has been taken to grow second wheats, drawing on all the known solutions including using a seed treatment, such as Latitude (silthiofam), observing a late sowing date where possible and earlier timing of spring nitrogen applications are recommended,” said Mr Blake.